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Orange Tempeh
I know what you’re thinking. “Really Jo? Wasn’t the tofu enough? What’s wrong with chicken? Do we really need more vegetarian options?”

Yes. Always! Variety is the spice of life, my friend. And tempeh, like tofu, is excellent if you take the time to do it right.

Orange Tempeh
Looks odd, tastes great

Orange Tempeh
Tempeh doesn’t need to get pressed like tofu. And it’s a bit more substantial than extra firm tofu, so it works really well if you’re looking for a meat substitute. Even if you’re not looking for a meat substitute, this fits the bill as hearty and filling, without being heavy. Total comfort food*

*Don’t roll your eyes at me. Tempeh can totally be comfort food!

Sorry, that was my mom sass coming out.

I started with unflavored tempeh and added orange juice,
Orange Tempeh

soy sauce, brown sugar,
Orange Tempeh

and spices. I threw it in a bag and let it marinate for 15 minutes. It’s hard to get the flavors to soak into the tempeh, so if you really want it saturated, allow it to marinate in the fridge overnight. I did not plan that far ahead.

Orange Tempeh
Then I followed standard stir fry procedure. Just the right amount of sauce, and full of fresh vegetables.

Orange Tempeh

Orange Tempeh

Orange Tempeh

Orange Tempeh Stir Fry
Serves 4-6

3 small blocks of tempeh, cut into cubes
juice from two oranges
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 clove of minced fresh garlic
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cayenne, depending on how spicy you like it
1-2 bell peppers, any color, sliced
2 cups chopped broccoli
6-8 small mushrooms, sliced

For the marinade:
Place the tempeh, juice from one orange, 1/4 cup soy sauce, brown sugar and spices into a ziplock bag. Allow it to rest in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, or overnight. Remove the tempeh, but save the marinade.

Heat an oiled wok or non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add the tempeh and stir fry until lightly browned on all sides. Remove the tempeh and set it aside for now.

Heat a teaspoon of oil in the wok and then cook the vegetables until tender crisp. About 3-5 minutes. Add the tempeh and remaining marinade to the vegetables. Then pour in the remaining orange juice and soy sauce. Feel free to add more spices at this point as well. Cook until very hot, making sure that all the vegetables get covered in the sauce. Serve over rice, quinoa, or by itself.

I kept eating this thinking that bok choy would be delicious in here, and if you hate mushrooms, leave them out. Stir fry is an excellent way to just use up whatever you have.

Remember, don’t be scared of tempeh if you’ve never had it before. Let me know what you think!

Spent Grain Burgers

Do you have a home brewer in your life? You’re going to need to find one.

Spent Grain Burgers

“What is spent grain?” you ask. I’m going to let Wikipedia answer that:
Brewer’s spent grain (also called Spent grain, Brewer’s grain or Draff) is a byproduct of beer brewing consisting of the residue of malt and grain which remains in the mash-kettle after the mashing and lautering process. It consists primarily of grain husks, pericarp, and fragments of endosperm. By mass, spent grains consist of about half carbohydrates, and the rest being mostly proteins and lignin. Carbohydrates include traces of starch, cellulose, β-Glucans, and arabinoxylans.

Mmmm. That sounds tasty ;)

Before we knew that people could eat spent grain, we would end up with pounds of it during brewing. All those lovely, nutty grains would end up in the trash.

Just goes to show you, always do your homework!

Spent Grain Burgers

Spent Grain Burgers
For as hearty as these burgers actually are, they have a very light feel in your belly.

Spent Grain Burgers
And unlike other vegetarian burgers I’ve tried, these stuck together really well, without sticking too much to me.

Spent Grain Burgers
I don’t think these would work very well on the grill though, unless you have a grill plate. The griddle, however, works quite nicely.

Spent Grain Burgers

Spent Grain Burgers
Dress these up just like you would a regular burger. We didn’t use cheese for some strange reason, but they didn’t even need them.

The barbecue sauce in the burgers give them a nice tangy snap, but the nuttiness of the spent grain and quinoa shines through to add some depth.

And even though we’ve made these three times in as many weeks, we still have leftover spent grains!

Anyone else want to give these a try?
Spent Grain Burgers

Spent Grain Burgers
From the Brooklyn Brew Shop
makes 8 patties

1 cup spent grain (re-hydrated with hot water, if they’ve been de-hydrated)
1 cup cooked quinoa (which is different than cooking one cup of quinoa. Yeah, I definitely figured that one out the long way! Just meant I had leftover quinoa for the next round of burgers)
2 eggs (or vegan egg replacement)
5 tbsp barbecue sauce
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until they are fully incorporated. Heat a generous amount of olive or almond oil in a griddle or cast-iron skillet. You don’t want to fry the burgers, but they do need help not sticking to the pan.
Scoop a handful of the mixture into your hand, and flatten slightly to form a patty. Place the patty on the griddle and allow it to cook on that side for 5-8 minutes before flipping. Repeat until all the mixture has been used.

Serve hot, with all the fixings!

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You know how every family has a set of side salads that appear at functions? Like Grandma’s broccoli salad, or Auntie’s guacamole? We’ve got those too. But we have things like “Romance Jello” or “Frog Eye Salad.” We were hilarious as kids.

Those side dishes are wonderful, but this one is a little different. It has vegetables. It has noodles. It didn’t come from the back of a romance novel. (I think)

My mother in law brought this salad once, and was told in no uncertain terms that she was to bring this to all future functions, no matter the occasion. That’s how we roll. You bring good food, and you’re in for life. Whether you like it or not!

It is so easy, too! Technically, I consider this a “cheat” recipe because the “sauce” isn’t homemade, but sometimes cheating is essential for success (in the case of food, not life). My sister and I made up a recipe for the 4th of July because my mother in law was out of town, and I think it was darn near perfect. Maybe Anita can give us some pointers in the comments section ;)

Anita’s Pasta Salad
Not sure where she got this one, but I’m so glad she did!

1 box of pasta (your favorite kind, but we like the colorful noodles)
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
2 cups of olives, either sliced or halved
1 or 2 large cucumbers, diced
1 bottle of your favorite Italian Dressing

Prepare pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse the pasta with cool water. Add chopped vegetables, and 3/4 to 1 bottle of Italian Dressing. Mix. Serve. No kidding!

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I don’t usually peel vegetables, but some people don’t like the skins. Do what you will.

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Thanks for doing the work, Amanda!

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Colorful noodles are really fun. And they totally taste better!

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For some added color, you could add sliced cherry tomatoes or chopped red pepper. We were kind of in a hurry though, and didn’t really think ahead. It happens.

So now you have another item to add to your family’s repertoire. What are your family staples?

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Tasty, easy, fast, and cheap! Plus, people seem to really enjoy it. I get requests for this recipe at just about every summer function with my family.

It’s macque choux! (Pronounced mock shoe) My sister and I cooked at her house on the 4th of July, and other than heating up the kitchen a bit, it was no sweat.

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I love your cutting board, Amanda!

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I can almost make Macque Choux in my sleep–heat up olive oil, saute onions,

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add red bell pepper,

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and garlic,

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and corn,

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add more tasty things like tomatoes,

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and green onions,

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then season,

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season,

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season!

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Am I dreaming about cayenne?

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Totally.

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I like to shovel it in my mouth before anyone notices. Then I pretend like it needs more salt or cayenne, and then I need to taste test it again.

Naturally.

Macque Choux
adapted from Eating Well. This recipe makes enough to feed an army. Feel free to modify as needed. But you might regret not making more…

sesame oil (or olive oil) for the pan
1 large onion, diced
2 red bell peppers, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 cans of fresh corn, some of the liquid reserved (if you have time to cut corn off the cob, you’re awesome)
1 tomato, diced
6 green onions, sliced thinly
1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tsp freshly chopped)
1 1/4* tsp paprika
1* tsp salt
3/4* tsp cayenne
*Use less or more, depending on tastes

Heat sesame oil in a large pan. Add onion and saute until soft and opaque. Add red bell pepper and garlic, saute until the peppers are tender-crisp. Add the corn and some of the canning liquid to keep things moist (or water if you used corn from the cob), then saute the mixture for about 5-7 minutes more.
Remove from heat and add the remaining ingredients. Taste often to make sure everything’s just the way you like it.

Serve with chips, over barbecued chicken, as a side dish, or garnish to your burger. Basically, just get it in your mouth!
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More summer bbq recipes coming soon. Until then, I’ve got my mouth full.

Eggplant Mykonos

I got to use my kitchen. It was fantastic.
I’m definitely not used to the stove though. It was a learning process last night, but the good news is that I didn’t burn anything!

Eggplant Mykonos
I moved my cutting boards around. Moved them back.

Eggplant Mykonos
Sighed with happiness at all the natural light streaming in from everywhere.

Eggplant Mykonos
And then we sat at the cleaned off table(!) and ate delicious stew.

Eggplant Mykonos
I know what you’re thinking. Stew? But it’s summer. I want summer food recipes.

Fresh Dill
It might be summer where you live, but here in Missoula we’re still in the midst of a rainy, gray spring. Don’t get me wrong, it’s awesome that everything is so green. And we haven’t had any major wildfires yet this year. And there have been one or two absolutely gorgeous, take-your-breath-away it’s-finally-sunny days. But the solstice is next week, and we haven’t been able to go swimming, or play outside all day even once.

Eggplant Mykonos
This bright flavored stew brought back memories of last year. It was so hot, the last thing we wanted to do was turn on the stove–but come on! Eggplant, tomatoes…red pepper? That screams summer, my friend.

Eggplant Mykonos

Eggplant Mykonos
Once everything was chopped, it was easy to throw this together in between unpacking, organizing and shelf building.

Eggplant Mykonos
Plus, it’s warming without being hot, so you could enjoy this on a cool summer evening. Heck, you could even eat this cold, right out of the fridge in the middle of July. If you wanted.

Eggplant Mykonos
Eggplant Mykonos
Adapted from the Moosewood Cookbook
Serves 6

2 medium onions, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
1 large eggplant, cut into cubes
1 large red bell pepper
28 oz canned diced tomato (with the juice!)
3/4 cup water
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground fennel
2 tbsp chopped fresh dill
juice from one lemon
3 cups fresh spinach
Feta, salt & black pepper to taste

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil and saute the onions until translucent and tender.
Add the eggplant and stir thoroughly to combine. Add the bell pepper, tomato (with juice), water, salt and ground fennel. Cover, and allow to cook until the eggplant is tender. About 15 to 20 minutes, stirring often.
Add the fresh dill, lemon juice and spinach. Stir until the spinach just begins to wilt, then serve over couscous or Quinoa.

Riesling
I hope that wherever you live, you can enjoy this on your deck with a touch of white wine. Riesling would be nice…if you wanted.

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No, I’m not technically single.
But Nick has been gone for over a week, so it’s kinda like being single.

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It seems like when Nick is home, there’s all kinds of things I want to try that he’s just not that into. But as soon as he left, I couldn’t think of a single one.
Go figure.

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I think the truth is that both of our tastes are evolving to be a bit more similar. I’ll have to see what he thinks about that.

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I was also sick for part of the week, and then the kid was sick for part of the week, so big to-do dinners just weren’t in the cards.

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This recipe was perfect because it was simple, relatively quick, and super easy to clean up after.

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Sweet Potato Wraps
Serves about one and a half

1 large sweet potato, diced as evenly as possible
1/2 cup black beans
1/3 cup feta cheese (I had roasted tomato and basil feta. It was fancy)
several cabbage leaves, shredded (I just tore them apart)
2 flat breads

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, and spray or brush with olive oil. Spread the sweet potato out on the baking sheet, then bake for 10 minutes.
After the ten minutes, add a little bit of hot water to the baking sheet and return it to the oven. Not so much water that the potato is drowning, but enough to give it a nice steam. Repeat this process one or two more times, until the sweet potato is very tender.
Warm up the black beans, and then the flat bread. Combine all the ingredients and wrap in foil.

This is probably one of those meals that Nick wouldn’t be wild about, but I guess I’ll have to make it again this week to find out.

Darn ;)

I got some amazing feedback from you guys about my white asparagus debacle.  There are tons and tons of great recipes out there, but the overwhelming consensus has been to peel it first!

Who knew?  I mean, besides all of you.  And Google.  And Food Network.  And eHow.com.  And Chow Hound.

Ok, so everyone knew but me.  I guess next time I’ll do my research first.  Seriously though, I had no idea it would be so different from green asparagus.  It was fun hearing from all of you though, so let’s just pretend that this was a pop quiz.

Congratulations!  You passed!  Can I come eat white asparagus at your house?

Ok, for once, I had a kitchen disaster that wasn’t my fault. At least, I don’t think it was my fault…

Passing through the produce section of Costco, something strange caught my eye. Something unique.

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What on earth could that be?
How can asparagus be white?
Is this just asparagus that hasn’t ripened yet?
What does it taste like?
Is the texture the same?

With so many questions, we had to buy it. It was significantly cheaper than green asparagus (which should have been clue number one), but sometimes when Costco gets a new product they drastically reduce the price to get people interested in the product.

The next day at work (we didn’t have time to make it that same day), I was telling a co-worker about our mysterious find. She told me that she’d had it before, and it wasn’t very good. (Clue number two) However, she had steamed her asparagus, and when I said we always grill ours, she thought it might make it work.

Normally, I do at least one Google search on things I’m not intimately familiar with, but I thought “What the heck? How different could it be?”

It was different.

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We prepared it like normal (threw it into a bag with olive oil, fresh lemon juice and salt. Marinated for about 15 minutes and then grilled). And then? And then.

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It looked normal (with the exception of being white). It smelled normal. But it had the worst texture!

It was soft on the outside and mushy on the inside. Like, so mushy I couldn’t bite it. So mushy I couldn’t cut it with a fork. So mushy, I couldn’t even cut it with a knife!

We had to have undercooked them, right? So we threw them back on the grill.

Five minutes passed. Then ten. After fifteen minutes, we figured they couldn’t possibly be mushy anymore. They had to have crisped, right?

Nope.

Not even a little.

So, we need help!

Did we overcook them? Undercook them? Is there some rule that says you shouldn’t marinate white asparagus? Or is the rule to just eat the lovely green asparagus and leave the white alone? Anyone?

I have a few thoughts to add:
1. The bag of asparagus did sit in our fridge for about 3 days. Could have been a factor.
2. The stalks were very thick. As a normal rule, we go for the thinner-to-medium stalks. Could have been a factor.

I’m at a loss. How could asparagus go so wrong?

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Did you know you can make your own fruit leather? I guess I knew that in theory, but it just never crossed my mind as one of those things I’d actually try.

Ok, so this is one of those things that Nick tried. I’m too honest for my own good!

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Fruit leather is ridiculously easy. All you do is boil some fruit in water, puree, and dehydrate.

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Yep. Totally doable.

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We spread ours a little too thin, but that’s an easy fix for next time. Even still, we were able to get some pretty sizable chunks.

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And it all tasted perfect, even the little flakes!

Since Nick did all the work on this one, he earned the right to abscond with the loot (he took it to work with him). At least he shared a few pieces. Next time we will probably do a triple or quadruple batch, just so there’s some the next day. (Fruit leather is hard to keep around with…well…us in the house. We like our fruit leather)
This is one of those infinitely changeable recipes. You can use whatever kind of fruit you want, and dehydrate it all at once. Then you’ll have fruit leather all summer long to bring with you on camping, floating and hiking trips! I’ll give you the recipe we used, and as we make this more often, I’ll post variations. I’d love to hear how you do it, too!

Fruit Leather
**Please wash all your fruit! I hate to sound preachy, but I know more people who don’t wash their fruit than I care to think about.

2 cups strawberries, roughly chopped
2 apples, sliced (we used Pink Lady, cause that’s what we had, but Granny Smith would give a nice bite of tartness)
1 oranges, peeled and segmented
1 cup water

Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan. Gently boil until fruit is very tender, about 15-20 minutes. Transfer fruit and liquid to a food processor and puree until smooth.  At this point, you should taste the puree to see if it needs sugar.  Most fruit is naturally sweet enough that you shouldn’t need it, but if you have particularly tart fruit or a particularly sweet tooth, add sugar in small amounts until it’s right.
You can use a food dehydrator or your oven–just follow your food dehydrator’s instructions, or set your oven on the lowest setting and bake for about 8-10 hours. Yes, hours. This is a good rainy day project. If you use a cookie sheet, line it with parchment paper and spray or brush a bit of vegetable or olive oil over it.
We didn’t use our Misto this time, but it definitely would have been helpful during the removal process.

When the leather is sufficiently dry, cut into strips and store in an airtight container.

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Let’s back up so you can see this properly.

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This was the most epic fruit salad. I even tweeted about it! (Did you know you can follow me on twitter? I’m super hilarious.  Well, I said something mildly funny once, anyway.)

The salad was epic, not only because it was delicious, and huge, but because of the variety.  This many fruits in the same bowl has to mean that spring is mostly here.  (Mostly, because I live in Montana, and we’re known for our June blizzards.  No joke!  I remember snow on the Fourth of July one year.  Yeah, it sucked as much as you think it would.)

We also grilled steak:
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Chicken is still not allowed for awhile, but when beef is this good, I don’t mind.

And to round it all out, our friend made a delicious mac & cheese dish.
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Nothing says warm weather like this:
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And no, that’s not a tricky camera angle. My plate was half full of fruit salad. I’m a fruit optimist ;)

Fruit Salad of Epic Proportions
Serves at least 8, unless you eat fruit salad like we do

2 Granny Smith apples
2 oranges
2 ripe pears
2-3 small bananas
3 cups grapes (your favorite color)
1 pint blueberries
1 pint raspberries
1 pint blackberries
3 cups hulled & sliced strawberries
1 lime

Wash fruit thoroughly! Peel orange and slice sections into chunks. Chop apples, bananas & pears (oh my!). Toss everything but the lime into a large bowl. Slice the lime in half and squeeze the juice into the bowl. Toss fruit so that the lime juice is evenly distributed. Serve immediately.

We definitely had leftovers. Leftover fruit salad is one of my very favorite things in the whole world. Why? Because you can add it to plain yogurt and eat it as a fruit and yogurt parfait for breakfast! Score.

As the weather gets warmer and fruit is more in season, this won’t be such an expensive adventure.  But really, it’s worth it to feel like spring might stick around.

Enjoy!

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